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Rural sexual violence survivors often face added barriers to seeking care, so a Lexington-based resource center is going mobile

Josh James

From obtaining qualified help to simply getting transportation, the challenges facing survivors of sexual violence in rural Kentucky counties can lead to fewer reported cases and delayed care. That's why a sexual violence resource center serving 17 Central Kentucky counties is working to solve the problem by bringing services to them.

Monday, visitors toured the interior of a large RV that’s been outfitted with a room where professionals can perform tests after a sexual assault has occurred, along with a comfortable waiting area, private shower, and bathroom.

Shayla Lynch heads up Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center of the Bluegrass, formerly the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center, says it’s more than an extra service – it’s literally meeting survivors where they are at their most vulnerable moments.

"It could be life-changing because someone who's experienced sexual violence, it turns your whole world upside down," Lynch says.

So much so that some might even opt not to seek care, an outcome Ampersand hopes to limit with the mobile service.

"A lot of times survivors in rural counties feel like that they have to come and drive into the hospital at UK or any of the hospitals in Lexington to receive that care because there may be a lack of sexual assault nurse examiners in their rural hospitals. So we're hoping that this program eliminates them having to come up here."
Shayla Lynch, executive director of Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center of the Bluegrass

Survivors need only call a 24-hour support line at 859-253-2511.

Find out more about Ampersand's services

The mobile service is believed to be the first of its kind in the state, but advocates hope it won’t be the last.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.